What We Fund

Wild lupine after rx burn at Blue River Bluffs SNA_WDNR

A flush of wild lupine after a prescribed burn at Blue River Bluffs SNA. Photo courtesy of WDNR.

The C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant Program was founded in 1990, in memory of former Department of Natural Resources Secretary C.D.
“Buzz” Besadny. The program funds projects at conservation organizations that promote the responsible stewardship of Wisconsin’s natural resources at the local level. To-date, the program has awarded $475,890 to 593 conservation projects across Wisconsin.

How to apply

The 2017 grant cycle is now closed.

The grant process is open to any qualifying exempt organizations such as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, accredited public or private school, or a government agency. Grants will not be awarded to individuals for projects that are part of an advanced degree program (such as Ph.D. or M.S.).

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their projects with Foundation staff prior to submission.

Grant contact:

Caitlin Williamson
Director of Conservation Programs
[email protected]
(608) 266-1430

Eligible Projects

  • Projects must be based in Wisconsin or have a primary impact on Wisconsin’s lands, waters, wildlife, or people.
  • Applicants must demonstrate how the project is related to the conservation of Wisconsin’s natural resources or how the project connects people to nature.
  • Successful proposals will have measurable outcomes that demonstrate the impact of the project.
  • Applicants must provide a one-for-one match at least equal to the value of the grant request. In-kind donations of goods or services may be counted toward the match along with dollar donations. Volunteer hours should be calculated based on the federal minimum wage for general work ($7.25 per hour). Regular staff work hours DO NOT count toward the match.
  • Projects with a total budget of more than $10,000 are not eligible for funding.
  • Past grant recipients MUST submit a grant report prior to applying for additional funding.

Application Instructions

  1. Fill out the application in full.
  2. Provide the following supporting documentation:
    • Proof of tax-exempt status, school accreditation, or government EIN;
    • Letter of support from a DNR-Natural Heritage Conservation specialist in the project area (if the project involves habitat manipulation or stocking plant or wildlife species. Contact [email protected] to receive a letter of support from Natural Heritage Conservation.);
    • Letter of support from the DNR property manager (only required if the applicant is a Friends’ group of a Wisconsin State Park property).
  3. Submit all materials to [email protected] by 5:00PM on September 1st. Applications must be emailed. Hard copy and faxed applications will not be accepted.

Grant Awards

Matching grants are available between $500 and $1,000. Applicants must match the requested funds with financial and/or in-kind donations.

Grant Timing

Applications are due September 1st. Organizations will be notified of the decision in October, with funding available in November. A project report is due within one year of receiving funding, and prior to applying for another grant from the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.

Examples of projects that have been funded:

  • Prairie restoration projects
  • Salamander translocation project
  • Handicap-accessible boardwalk construction
  • Bat box building workshops
  • Nature trail signage
  • Community rain garden and butterfly garden planting
  • Bluebird trail and education program
  • Wetland identification and information toolkit
  • Great Blue Heron nest webcam
  • Pond study platform development

 Reporting Requirements

Grant recipients are required to submit a project report within one year of receiving the grant, and prior to applying for another grant from the Foundation. Project report forms are provided at the time the grant award is made. Reports must include at least two high-quality, compelling photographs, which may be used by the Foundation for marketing purposes.

Congratulations to our 2017 C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant recipients!